Three Griffith University teams will fly to San Francisco, Shanghai and London next weekto compete in the regional finals of the prestigious Hult Prize.

The Hult Prize Foundation is a start-up accelerator for budding young social entrepreneurs emerging from the world’s universities.

Named by President Bill Clinton and TIME Magazine as one of the top five ideas changing the world, the annual competition aims to create and launch compelling social business ideas that tackle grave issues faced by billions of people.

The winners will receive USD1 million in seed capital, as well as mentorship and advice from the international business community.

Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Martin Betts said it was pleasing to see Griffith University students excel in the competition.

“Having three teams through to the regional finals is an extraordinary achievement given that it is the highest number of any Australian university, and more than 25,000teams worldwide applied in 2016,” Professor Betts said.

“The University encourages all students to embrace new ideas and to collaborate during their studies and the Hult Prize encourages just that.”

Crowded urban spaces

This year’s challenge is ‘Crowded Urban Spaces,’ with each team proposing a solution to vie for the start-up funding.

Bachelor of Exercise Science student Andrew McLean is travelling to the London regional final next week alongside fellow team members Bachelor of Forensic Science student Katelyn Pomroy and Bachelor of Business student Joseph O’Rourke.

The team’s entry focuses on better health and safety for street food vendors in Manila in the Phillippines.

“We are aiming to develop a market for internationally recognised hygienic safe eating places,” says Andrew.

“The streets of Manila are our target for a pilot program which will take 10 existing businesses and street vendors and aim to improve their food hygiene standards. This will be aided by providing the business owners with the tools they need to get started such as online learning tools, and appliances including a refrigerator and kettle.

“The program will also provide tourists to the region, with the peace of mind to experience more than just the food in the big hotels and get out and sample the local street food.

“If we can prove our pilot program’s worth during the six-minute presentation, then we have a chance of getting through to the finals and getting the $1m for the start up funding.”

Jack Fox, Griffith Engineering alumnus and leader of the team travelling to San Francisco, said his group’s entry is about providing multinational corporations with a learning management system tailored for developing nations.

“Through an innovative approach to content, delivery and accessibility, unskilled locals living in crowded urban spaces will be given the opportunity and tools to become employable for free.”

Meanwhile, a team from the Griffith Business School, comprising three social marketing researchers and a human resources postgraduate student, will take its plan for economic growth in the slums of Sao Paolo to Shanghai.

“We have developed an income redistribution strategy with the aim of creating new revenue streams to improve quality of life among slum dwellers in Brazil,” business student David Schmidtke said.

“We want to set up industrial kitchens in or near the slums and deliver lunch-box style meals to companies in the city using new bicycle lanes that are part of emerging infrastructure in Sao Paolo.”

The regional finals of the 2016 Hult Prize take place on March 11-12. Winners will compete in the Global Final in New York City in September.